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Vessel Communication Between 2 Koreas Stops

Posted December. 04, 2008 07:24,   


The wireless communication channel between naval vessels of the two Koreas to prevent accidental skirmishes in the Yellow Sea has virtually stopped due to North Korea’s refusal to cooperate, a report said yesterday.

According to a report to the National Assembly’s special committee on inter-Korean relations released by the Defense Ministry, South Korea made 104 calls through the channel for international commercial ships between June 2004, when the channel was launched, and the end of October, when the North gave only a single response. The number of Pyongyang’s responses last month went up slightly, but remained in single digits.

This has raised fears over difficulty in prompt communication between the two sides should a naval clash occur along the Northern Limit Line in the Yellow Sea.

The operation of the communication channel between military situation rooms of both sides in charge of the Yellow Sea area has become obsolete since May, ending the two militaries’ exchange of information on illegal Chinese fishing vessels near the sea border. The two sides had communicated on the matter via phones and fax twice a day since August 2005.

The South Korean Defense Ministry also said the operation of the channel between military situation rooms of both sides in the East Sea has been poor, though still up and running.

With the North toughening its stance against the South, the ministry said in the report that it has strengthened its supervision and control near the inter-Korean sea border to detect and track unusual behavior to protect the South’s naval vessels and prevent the abduction of fishing vessels.

South Korea is also reportedly conducting training tailored to each provocation type to be ready for any contingency in the Joint Security Area at Panmunjom, areas overseen by both Koreas in the Yellow and the East seas, and general outpost areas. In addition, Seoul has tightened its military readiness posture in case of withdrawal of civilians in the jointly managed areas.

The ministry said the North is extremely passive in making progress in inter-Korean relations as demonstrated by its failure to implement most military-related items in the 1992 inter-Korean Basic Agreement and its selective implementation of parts beneficial to Pyongyang.